Hi, and welcome to the new Theera blog!
I’m Uang, a pastry chef with 10 years of experience in allergen-free baking. I was drawn to allergen-free cooking by my son’s gluten allergy. I started baking at home for him, then opened Theera Healthy Bake Room in Bangkok nearly seven years ago because I wanted to give even more people access to tasty, healthy, allergen free treats. Whatever your diet requires, Theera has it: nut-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan and egg-free baked goods are on offer!
This blog series is for anyone who wants to bake allergen-free at home – I’ll be sharing all the tips I’ve learned over the years for substituting ingredients like flour, eggs and dairy.
When Theera first opened it was hard to get the ingredients I needed. Even when I managed to buy some they were so expensive, even for local ingredients such as brown rice flour or coconut sugar.
I’ve tried to base the suggestions in this series on what you can easily find in Bangkok. You should be able to find them in supermarkets like Villa Easy Online Grocery Shopping at Villa Market, Tops Tops online ซูเปอร์มาร์เก็ตออนไลน์อันดับ 1 ของไทย, Tesco Lotus เทสโก้ โลตัส เราใส่ใจคุณ | Tesco Lotus, or Big C https://www.bigc.co.th/en.
In the first blog of the series I’ll share suggestions for gluten-free flours.❤️
Locally sourced gluten-free flour
If you want to reduce your food miles, these could be for you. Most of the time you can find these items in supermarkets. They are sold in smaller packs, between 400 to 500 grams. They include brown rice flour, white rice flour Villa Select Items | Villa Market – Thailand’s Original International Supermarket and tapioca flour (cassava flour).
Internationally sourced gluten-free flour
Two of my favourite flours are almond flour and buckwheat flour (yes, there is “wheat” within the name but surprisingly it contains no wheat!). You can find buckwheat flour at Villa Easy Online Grocery Shopping at Villa Market. For almond flour, it is not something you usually have in a typical kitchen. You can buy Theera’s signature gluten-free almond flour mix Theera’s Signature Gluten Free Almond Flour Mix | Shop (theerahealthybakeroom.com), or get it from a bakery supplier (or even at Sunshine Market https://sunshinemarket.co.th/ and Radiance Wholefoods https://www.radiancewholefoods.com/index.php?route=common/home).
Oat flour – use with caution
You may see recipes online using oat flour. Even though oat itself is gluten-free, most of the time it is processed in the same facilities as other grains that contain gluten such as wheat, rye, or barley. To be safe, at Theera, we identify products with oat as not gluten-free. In the case of gluten-free products that contain oat, we always use certified gluten-free oat to make sure it is safe for customers with severe gluten allergies.
If you do want to experiment using oat flour in your gluten-free recipes, you can choose to buy certified gluten-free oat flour from Bob’s Red Mill brand or you can blend the certified gluten-free rolled oats (from the same brand) until it is finely ground. However, the gluten-free oat flour is quite pricey as it is imported from the US. I don’t use it in a commercial kitchen as it is not practical cost-wise.
Top tip #1 for gluten-free flour substitutes: mix your flours!
I would always recommend using more than one type of gluten-free flour to replace wheat flour. This is because none of them has the same quality as wheat due to the lack of gluten.
I generally mix a couple of flours together. The must-use ingredients for me are brown rice flour and tapioca flour. Sometimes I mix them with almond flour and sometimes buckwheat flour, depending on what I make or which allergen I am avoiding.
Although almond flour gives a very nice texture for most bakery products (cakes, cookies, breads, brownies, bars etc.), a lot of customers are allergic to tree nuts so I would swap for buckwheat flour, knowing that the texture will be different.
Top tip #2 for gluten-free flour substitutes: xanthan gum
Since none of the flours I’ve listed have gluten, I usually add xanthan gum to create elasticity and stickiness to the batter (usually ½ teaspoon of xanthan gum per one cup of gluten-free flour). Gluten-free baked goods with no xanthan gum (and not enough binding ingredients) are likely to crumble and fall apart.
For vegan products, most of the time I only use all-purpose flour. You can also use bread flour when you make vegan bread.
Some of our favourite gluten-free Theera products
In case you want to ‘test’ some of our gluten-free baking (?), here’s some of my favourites:
- Crinkle cookie or the base of our Banoffee pie – for these the gluten-free flour is made with a mix of buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, tapioca flour
- Buckwheat flour usually goes well with something chocolatey Peanut butter cake or Choc-chip cookie or fudge brownie made with a mix of almond flour, brown rice flour, tapioca flour
- And we can’t forget our cinnamon rolls
Thanks for reading. Next month I’ll be looking at allergen-free sweeteners. Give Theera a like on Facebook, sign up for our newsletter or a follow on Instagram Theera : Healthy Bake Room (@theerahealthybakeroom) • Instagram photos and videos to stay updated!